Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Agusta Westland Chopper SCAM: Shadowy figures across globe on agencies’ radar

New Delhi: The CBI and foreign agencies probing kickbacks in the sale of VVIP helicopters to India in 2010 will be looking at several controversial and mysterious individuals based in India, Europe and elsewhere for their alleged involvement in pushing the deal through.

Between them, they may have been paid €51 million (approx Rs 350 crore) by AgustaWestland or its parent firm Finmeccanica as kickbacks, and much of that could have found its way back into the Italian political establishment. Probably a portion of the payment may have even reached Indian political contacts. The spectre of payouts to Indian politicians, or those operating on their behalf, is quite high because of the individuals who are allegedly involved in the deal, and their close contacts with Indian politicians.

Three of the alleged middlemen hold the key to unravelling the details of the kickbacks: Switzerland-based Guido Haschke, who has been operating in the Indian market for years and used to be a director on the board of real estate firm Emaar MGF in the past. Carlo Gerosa is a business partner of Haschke. Christian Michel is a UK resident and has very powerful political connections in India.

Names of several Indians too have emerged in the investigations, but no concrete information is available.

According to transcripts, of the €51 million kickbacks, almost €30 million may have been paid to Michel, a confidante of Finmeccanica chief executive and chairman Giuseppe Orsi, who was arrested in Italy on Tuesday.

Names figuring in the taped conversation include Gautam Khaitan, a Delhi-based lawyer and a business partner of Haschke, Sanjeev Kumar Tyagi, a cousin of former air force chief Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi, and Chandigarhbased firm Aeromatrix. The conversation shows that the kickbacks may have been routed via Tunisia and Mauritius.

One recorded conversation shows that about 15 million euros of this kickback may have been routed back into India.

Records presented in Italian courts also show that Paolo Girasole, who used to head Finmeccanica’s operations in India, was also paid some of the kickbacks.


Probably the go-between among some key Indian contacts, the CEO of Finmeccanica and others. He is believed to have handled 30 million euros of the kickbacks. His father Wolfgang Richard Max Michel too had deep Indian connections. Michel is also believed to have close connections with several Indian politicians. Faces an arrest warrant in Switzerland, and is presently based in Dubai

Haschke, who holds Italian and US passports, is based in Switzerland. He has been very active in India for many years, and used to be a director of Emaar MGF. He was briefly arrested by Swiss authorities in connection with the ongoing investigations. Carlo Gerosa is his business partner. A large part of the secretly recorded conversations is between the two, and discusses in detail the VVIP helicopter deal with India

A cousin of former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi, he is known to be a flashy operator who lives in a farm house and operates out of New Delhi

A Delhi-based lawyer who seemed to have been a legal advisor to Haschke and Gerosa. His name repeatedly figures in the conversations. He and Haschke were involved in promoting Aeromatrix, a Chandigarh-based firm which figures in the investigations.

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